Posted by Matt on November 12, 2009
When Reason Magazine needed a new publishing system and a visual refresh of their website, one of the criteria was that the layout and content organization remain as consistent with the previous version as possible.
The introduction of a completely new design can be aggravating for existing users, particularly when features that they’ve taken the time to learn are suddenly relocated, or removed altogether.
To avoid disorienting users, we reused the existing site format while updating the visual design and improving elements such as spacing and contrast. This way, Reason’s readers benefit from the enhanced features made possible by the new publishing system, without the inconvenience of relearning how to use the site.
For example, Reason, like many other websites, structures content with a static three column layout. The left hand column is dedicated to navigational links, masthead information and advertising. The center column contains the featured content well and links to categorized content, and the right column promotes additional highlighted content, with space for advertising.
The old version of the site was well organized with plenty of white space, but the design was flat and lacked visual interest and depth. The new design is more appealing, has a more natural visual hierarchy, and does a better job of keeping content separated without feeling unnecessarily boxy.